At first, I began documenting our dates so we could look back on them over the coming year(s?!) and remember the start of our relationship. Perhaps this should have been evidence enough that we saw each other so infrequently, there had to be a log almost to prove it happened.
And here we have it, the most peculiar of relationships I’ve had which culminated in the worst break-up I’ve had.
A relationship by numbers, if you like:
- Casual drinks at a pub in London Bridge. He was taller than I anticipated, more attractive and we had an absolute laugh.
- Dinner at a Malaysian restaurant in London Bridge followed by wine in Borough Market. First kiss.
- A trip to Brighton – there was an unexpected case of Covid at the swanky bar I booked so we moved on. To change the scenery, we sat in three different places in the restaurant. I likely drank too much but I was nervous. We went back to mine and slept together for the first time.
- We’re back in London having delicious wine near Charing Cross. On our way to comedy, we’re caught in a summer shower. I try and suggest I come back to his. I end up on the train back to Brighton.
- A casual pub and an easy pizza place make for date number 5 in Brighton. We watch TV on the sofa, play games in the kitchen and have sex everywhere.
- Wine in Covent Garden, a horrific American-style meat place then more wine somewhere else in Covent Garden. I’m back on the train to Brighton, alone.
- We go to one of my favourite pubs in Brighton, then a vegan sushi place (I’m not vegan but perhaps it was payback for the meat feast the previous date). I was completely sober all evening on account of IVF meds – we had lots of fantastic sex.
- An odd date in Paddington: cheese and wine on a barge. I hop on the train to Brighton after our dinner.
- He comes to Brighton and meets one of my best friends. We have wonderful sex before we go out to a really nice restaurant. He’s not that chatty, I’m making most of the effort. I’m drinking quickly.
- In Vauxhall, we meet another one of my best friends before we go for dinner and then to a pub. I ask again if I can stay. I can’t, so I go back to my mate’s.
- It’s his birthday dinner (not on his actual birthday, though). I (happily) spend a fortune at the Malaysian restaurant we went to months before then we go to the Shard for drinks. I foot the bill, willingly, then I realise I missed my last train, my sisters aren’t answering their phones (on account of it being 1:00 AM on a Tuesday night) and he stares at me blankly when I say I have nowhere to stay. Stupidly, I don’t dump him on the spot.
- Another round of IVF treatment and a very stressful week at work epitomises our next date. We’re in Covent Garden at a Hawaiian restaurant. I have a mocktail before heading back to my parents’ in Kent for a hospital appointment the next day.
- This time, I’m cooking for him! A delicious Asian-style pork belly I bought at the butchers and spent most of the day prepping. No, sorry, I also spent the night before marinading it. He walks through the door. I’m in stockings and suspenders. He has work to do. After 40 mins of him tap, tap, tapping away on the kitchen table, I’m getting impatient. I tell him to put his laptop away as dinner has been ready for a while.
- This Sunday evening he meets my sister and me for a quick drink. She, too, thinks he’s a lovely guy. I head back to Brighton.
- Before he comes to Brighton for our next date, I make a note on my phone to pass a joke about him having a secret life. It’s laughed off, because of course it would be. I ask him about Christmas and New Year – he tells me he has vague plans to see his cousin in Copenhagen. I politely request he return to the UK to spend NYE with me. We watch a comedy show and have great sex back at mine. The next day we have a relaxed morning, go for a delicious roast, enjoy fine wine at my house and he gets a late train back to London.
- It’s the end of my first week in my new job. We return to the Comedy on the Boat we went to early in our relationship. I call up a few hotels to see if we can get a late deal. He’s not as enthusiastic about the idea as I am. I’m back on the train to Brighton.
- A friend invited him to her wedding, and surprisingly, he comes. It’s so lovely to see him dressed up and I’m in my bridesmaid’s dress. We head back to mine in the evening and he leaves for London the next day.
- We go to a weird Korean restaurant in Vauxhall after work. He’s had a god-awful day, I’m feeling low about my Grandpa’s health. We have a charming, caring dinner then return to the pub we met my friend months ago. A kiss goodbye and I hop on the train back to Brighton.
Until typing it out, I didn’t realise we only had 18 dates (I stopped noting them on my phone by date 13 because I assumed we’d see each other more and I wouldn’t need to count). There’s also something poignant about 18 being my favourite number. Funny how these things work out.
Funny in a not-so-funny kind of way.